Liverpool 5 – 1 Arsenal: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Reds Sign off the Year in Style

What a year 2018 has been! This side have started building something special, and a 5-1 victory over Arsenal at Anfield was the perfect way to bring the curtain down on a spectacular calendar year.

The dream day got off to a nightmare start when Ainsley Maitland-Niles tucked home a Liverpool-like goal that came against the run of play, but these Reds are different to the teams of the past, these lads relish clearing hurdles. Within minutes, we were not only back in the game but practically had it all wrapped up.

Firmino was gifted an equaliser before he scored a cracking goal by sitting down Arsenal’s defence and embarrassing the goalkeeper. Mane finished off a brilliant team move for the third and Salah smashed a penalty home before halftime to put the game to bed. Liverpool then went into cruise control before we were given another, albeit soft, penalty, and Bobby slotted it home for a hattrick in front of the Kop.

Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League : News Photo

Player Ratings

Alisson – 8.5

After the first goal went in, which he couldn’t have done anything about, Alisson had very little to do with his gloves. His only notable save was a brilliant one to deny Shkodran Mustafi, even though it ended up being called back for offside anyway.

The Brazilian took it upon himself to get involved though, even if Arsenal weren’t going to do it. He set up the fourth goal by releasing the ball quickly and precisely to Bobby out wide on the halfway line. Bobby then played Salah through who was fouled twice for the penalty.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7

Trent probably struggled more than any Liverpool player on the pitch at times, although even he wasn’t exactly poor, he just didn’t cope as well as he usually does with being targeted.

It has to be said that Alex Iwobi had a good game and was causing TAA some serious problems. A better winger with a bit of end product could’ve taken advantage of the situation. Perhaps Trent’s still shaking off some rust after his injury.

Dejan Lovren – 8

Lovren’s never going to win some people over, is he? Granted, he made a mistake by giving the ball away cheaply for Arsenal’s goal, but his teammates hardly covered themselves in glory while trying to snuff out that gifted chance, and moreover, from that moment onwards, Lovren was excellent.

I can’t explain what other people saw, but Aubameyang couldn’t get a sniff, Aaron Ramsay wasn’t allowed space in and around the box, and Alexandre Lacazette had nothing to feed off of once he came on. Lovren played a significant role in that, not to mention he won the second penalty, even though it was exceedingly soft.

Virgil van Dijk – 8.5

It’s hard to rate VVD sometimes because often his best performances come when he has very little to do. He makes those around him better, his organisational skills are impeccable, and instead of flying in with last-ditch tackles to deny a goal, he coolly shepherds the striker away before a chance has been created.

He was also the first man to turn to his players after the opening goal, and instead of scolding them, he appeared to encourage and urge them to focus. The team’s reaction was telling. What a leader.

Andy Robertson – 8

Some have attributed a portion of the blame for Arsenal’s goal to Robbo because he was out of position. He was only out of position because the ball was given away, had the ball been retained then he was in acres of space to launch an attack. Although to be fair, like TAA with Iwobi, Robbo was beaten a couple of times by Maitland-Niles.

Other than that though, Robbo was great and the highlight of his night was a sumptuous diagonal ball to Salah who then knocked it across the goal to Mane at the back post. Special mention has to go to Robbo for keeping his head screwed on after being booked very early into the match.


Fabinho – 7

After a run of good form, Fabinho struggled at times against Arsenal and gave the ball away extremely carelessly a couple of times. If that were Manchester City, he would’ve been punished and could’ve cost the team the game.

In fairness to the lad, he slowly recovered from these mistakes and his passing greatly improved. He also did a great job of driving the team forward from midfield. Hopefully he can develop his mental toughness further over the next few weeks and months so that when he inevitably makes a mistake, he can bounce back from it sooner.

Gini Wijnaldum – 9.5

What a game from Gini, he’s such a classy player. If Bobby hadn’t of gotten a hattrick, then Gini surely would’ve scooped the award. In any case, the Dutchman was brilliant again in the double pivot role alongside Fabinho.

He never put a foot wrong with or without the ball. He tackled and intercepted well, controlled the middle of the park, pinged passes around, and as ever, was virtually impossible to tackle. The fact that Klopp pulled him off early shows that the manager wants him to put in a similar performance against City next week.

Bobby Firmino – 10 (Man of the Match)

He’s back! Finally! Bobby’s first goal came from nowhere, but he scored it with another no-look finish. He can take full credit for his second though as he broke a few ankles with his twists, turns, and fake shots. Some have pointed out that Arsenal’s defence isn’t brilliant, but to do what Bobby did to any Premier League player, regardless of form, is truly special.

Let’s not forget his pass that put Salah through for the penalty just before halftime either. He later took his own penalty well for a deserved and overdue hattrick, we just have to hope now that this is a weight off of his shoulders and that he’ll be able to use this confidence to really kick on for the second half of the season.

Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League : News Photo

Sadio Mane – 8.5

Like Bobby, Mane bounced back from some up and down form with an outstanding performance. Firmino has him to thank for winning the ball off of Lucas Torriera before his second. Mane’s efforts were rewarded in turn by Salah who gifted the winger only his second goal in the last 11 matches.

He looked really disappointed to be hooked off by Klopp so soon, but he’ll understand the importance of staying fresh and carrying the form of this game into the next against City.

Xherdan Shaqiri – 8

Shaq was bright all game and can consider himself unlucky after not registering an assist or two despite playing his teammates in with a few inch-perfect passes.

He wasn’t as involved in the attack as some of his other colleagues, but this can be partially attributed to him taking on more responsibilities in defence, and when he was involved, you certainly noticed his contributions.

Mo Salah – 9

One aspect of Salah’s game that’s flown under the radar is how much his pressing has improved this season. He was utterly relentless, particularly during the first half, and his pressure absolutely factored into the comedy of errors that led to our first goal.

His assist for Mane was unbelievable, what a touch! If KDB or Messi had done that then you’d never see or hear the end of it, to give the ball so cleanly and accurately to Mane off the volley is phenomenal, make no mistake about it.



Jordan Henderson – (on for Mane – 62′) 7.5

Hendo came on to help control the game as Arsenal were threatening to show a bit of fight, and he did just that. I’d be surprised if Klopp doesn’t start him against City as Hendo, Gini, and Milner appear to be his most trusted midfielders, hence why they started against Napoli.

Adam Lallana – (on for Wijnaldum – 77′) – N/A

Lallana technically had enough time to make an impact, but Liverpool had dropped back to first gear ages before he came on, so aside from the odd counter-attack, it was virtually a 13 minute light training session for him.

Nathaniel Clyne – (on for Robertson – 83′) N/A

Not enough time to make an impact, however, Clyne did nearly give a penalty away. He didn’t do terribly in his short spell, but he’s clearly not comfortable on the left with or without the ball, and understandably so.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Naby Keita, Divock Origi, and Daniel Sturridge.


Jurgen Klopp – 10

I have to give Klopp a perfect score for this game as he got every decision right, was spot on with his substitutions, and more importantly, he appears to have not only instilled a winning mentality into the side, but also a certain sense of calmness.

I was surprised to see Robbo last as long as he did given that he was sitting on a yellow for quite some time and losing him to suspension against City would’ve been a disaster. However, Klopp showed trust in his player to do his job carefully, and the Scotsman justified that.

Much was made of Unai Emery supposedly ‘outsmarting’ Klopp after the final against Sevilla and the game at the Emirates this season, so the German will probably be pleased to have shut that conversation right up. It’s been talked about to death, but Klopp appears to have found the perfect balance between attack and defence with this Liverpool side, yet many of the players are still not at their absolute best.

Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League : News Photo

Talking Points

Confident Kopites

When Arsenal went 1-0 up, of course I was feeling nervous, I always do. Although there was never a sense of ‘here we go again’ as in previous years, it was just that I thought we had a fight on our hands. We didn’t. 5 minutes later we were in the lead, and before the halftime whistle had even blown the game was over.

This is not just a side of flat track bullies who can only do it when it’s easy, this Liverpool team is strong in their ability, but more importantly, their mentality, and it’s that which will hopefully get us over the line by the end of the season.

Virgil van Dijk summed this up after the match when he said, “It was unlucky we conceded, but we reacted how we should have reacted, and deserved it today. We still need to improve a lot of things, but we’re very happy with the situation at the moment. We’re in a good way, we feel good, it’s tough these days but now it’s a great time to be a Liverpool player.”

Showdown at the Etihad

Our next match will be our greatest test so far. Manchester City away. If City win, then Liverpool’s lead will look a whole lot less impressive, but if the Reds can get a draw or a win though, then the belief will really start to take hold of the players and fans.

In that sense, there’s a lot of pressure on Liverpool going into the game despite having a healthy lead over the defending champions on the table. However, City themselves are now dealing with a different kind of pressure, a pressure they’ve never dealt with before. Last season they walked the League, and might’ve done the same in the Champions League if they didn’t run into Liverpool, but now, they’re up against it.

They’ve lost three of their last four, their stars are dealing with poor form and injury concerns, and most worryingly for them, they find themselves chasing the title instead of running away with it. It’s easy to always be the hammer, but sometimes you don’t know who a team truly are until they’ve been the nail. City’s response will be telling in terms of how the title race goes.

2018 Behind Us

How long’s it been since we fans can look back on a whole year of football and almost exclusively feel immense pride, satisfaction, and hope for our team?

The only real disappointment aside from the odd game towards the end of last season was the devastating loss in Kyiv. Most fans took great memories from that run though and the pain of losing was quickly replaced with pride in the lads and manager, as well as high hopes for the next season, and what a season it’s been so far!

Having said that, we can keep all of these moments as happy memories once the season’s done and finished the way we want it to. For now though, it’s time to let them go and focus on what happens between now and May. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still so far to go.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 30/12/2018

Liverpool 4 – 0 Newcastle: Player Ratings and Talking Points

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Liverpool fans are in a collective state of euphoria and disbelief right now. Not only are the Reds still unbeaten and playing excellent football, but Manchester City, our closest rivals, have lost 3 out of their last 4 League games meaning Liverpool are now 7 points clear of them.

While that’s great, it’s important to remain focused on ourselves. Klopp’s men certainly were against Newcastle and deservedly waltzed to victory with a 4-0 win at Anfield.

Lovren opened the scoring before Salah doubled the lead from the penalty spot. Shaqiri scored in front of the Kop to put the result to bed, but there was still time for Fabinho to get his first goal in red. It was an excellent day all round for the fans and players alike.

Liverpool FC v Newcastle United - Premier League : News Photo

Player Ratings

Alisson – 7.5

Harking back to the start of his Liverpool career, Alisson had practically nothing to do on a cold Boxing Day between the sticks aside from a few routine saves.

The Brazilian was finally called into action with ones of the last kicks of the game, but he did brilliantly well to keep yet another clean sheet to help Liverpool pull themselves level with City’s impressive goal difference.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8

It was great to see Trent back so soon after his injury a couple of weeks ago. I feared he’d be out for months at the time, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, the relief of his return was dampened by the news that Milner had a hamstring problem.

Trent went mostly untested in defence despite Newcastle’s best efforts, but his contribution to the attack was excellent and he was rewarded with an assist for Shaqiri from a low ball into the box.

Dejan Lovren – 8.5 (Man of the Match)

What a strike! We’ll likely go a long time before we see a defender hit a ball as sweetly as Lovren did when he belted it into the top corner after a failed clearance.

Aside from his astonishing goal, Lovren bossed it in defence and never looked like making a mistake. He also gave Mane a glorious chance to score late into the match. Hopefully Lovren can keep this up until Gomez’s return and beyond.

Virgil van Dijk – 7.5

VVD had next to nothing to do all game. He won everything in the air, moved the ball around well, and almost scored on a number of occasions.

There’s little else to talk about here in terms of analysis. He’ll be hoping every other game is as easy as this one, but like Alisson, he never appears to become complacent even late into games.

Andy Robertson – 7.5

Robbo had an incredibly similar game to TAA. Neither were forced to break a sweat in defence and both provided excellent width and attacking thrust.

While Robbo didn’t get a direct assist like Trent did, it was his cross to the back post that Newcastle failed to clear before the ball sailed towards Lovren.

2018 EPL Premier League Football Liverpool v Newcastle Utd Dec 26th : News Photo

Jordan Henderson – 7

Similar to his performance against Wolves, Hendo was far more aggressive with the ball than he has been at times earlier in the season and for the most part, it paid off, as he was directly involved in the build-up to the third goal.

My only criticism of him was that, again similar to the Wolves game, I just wanted to see more. He seems well suited to the role and system that he’s being used in at the moment, but perhaps he still needs a bit more confidence to really take games by the scruff of the neck.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6.5

Gini was probably the worst Red on the day, but even then, he wasn’t too bad. His industry was never in question, but his passing left a lot to be desired.

He gave the ball away far too many times against poor opposition and on another day, he could’ve been punished for it by better, more confident players.

Bobby Firmino – 6.5

Bobby’s current form resembles that of Salah’s a couple of months ago before he starting clicking into gear — a frustrating case of one step forward, two steps back. Aside from one good ball through to Mane, Firmino’s end product was mostly disappointing, although he was still confident enough to keep trying.

Hopefully he’ll do what Salah has done and made his good days far more regular. Many questioned whether Salah should be a striker after such a good season on the wing, but now look at him. The same result could come from questions over Firmino’s suitability as a 10.

Liverpool FC v Newcastle United - Premier League : News Photo

Sadio Mane – 7

Poor Mane. He did just about everything right except score. Every time he was put through or had the chance to set someone up, his touch was either inches off, or the ball was just slightly out of his reach.

His movement and involvement demonstrated that he’s desperately close to returning to Man of the Match performances, but he could use a goal or two to give him the confidence to do so (much like Firmino in that sense).

Xherdan Shaqiri – 7.5

Shaq had a similar night to Mane. He was up and down and regularly on the periphery of creating something special, although, he improved as the match went on.

He created quite a few chances and showed enough swagger to attempt a backheel flick-on, which didn’t work sadly, but you want your attacking players to have that level of confidence and freedom to express themselves. He scored the easiest goal of his career when he nipped into the back post and passed the ball into the back of the net.

Mo Salah – 8

We need to address the elephant in the room first. Salah went down very easily for the penalty, and if the situation were reversed, we’d all be incensed. Sure, there was contact, but the penalty was a weak one. Having said that, it had no bearing on the result whatsoever, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s fairly inconsequential.

Mo was relatively quiet at the start of the game, but it didn’t take long for him to start terrorising Newcastle’s defence. He won his penalty and then scored it with a precise shot into the bottom corner, and then he assisted the final goal with a great delivery from a corner.



Fabinho – (on for Wijnaldum – 62′) 8

It’s always great to see someone grab their first goal for the club and Fab certainly deserved one after his great run of games recently.

Daniel Sturridge – (on for Firmino – 69′) 6.5

Studge tried hard and linked up well with his teammates, but he couldn’t make a significant impact on the game.

Nathaniel Clyne – (on for Robertson – 82′) N/A

Clyne appears to have taken Moreno’s place on the bench, which is good because he’s more reliable in defence than the Spaniard.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Naby Keita, Adam Lallana, and Divock Origi.


Jurgen Klopp – 9

Many people would’ve been expecting Klopp to have fielded a far weaker, rotated side considering the upcoming game against Arsenal in a few days, and then City after that. However, imagine the fans’ reaction if Klopp fielded a second-string lineup against Newcastle and drew on a day when City lost to Leicester!

Moreover, given that the game was a doddle for the most part, it’s hard to imagine that many Reds would’ve left the pitch feeling exhausted after that one. It also gave a chance for players such as Trent to return from injury in an ideal setting, as well as give an opportunity for players like Mane and Firmino to rebuild a bit of confidence before Arsenal and City. Klopp gave them the chance to do so, but unfortunately, they didn’t really take it.

The only thing that displeased me was that Klopp didn’t afford Keita the same opportunity, not even from the bench. This seemed like the perfect time to get Keita out there, whether for the full 90 or just the final 30, and give him the freedom to do and go wherever he pleased to try and recapture his form from the first game of the season.

Liverpool FC v Newcastle United - Premier League : News Photo

Talking Points

Citizens Under Pressure

Most Liverpool fans are being realistic about the current situation and know there’s still a long way to go, but there are a few misguided optimists who seem to think the League is decided in December. It’s not, of course.

Think of it this way, who predicted City would lose 3 of their last 4 Premier League games? No one. That’s how quickly things can change in football. Although that run does show one other thing. It shows arguably City’s on weakness within their squad, yet I don’t see anyone drawing too much attention to it — the loss of Fernandinho.

It’s not just his absence that’s hurt them, but the fact that he’s the one player in the squad that they don’t have at least one, if not two or three, excellent replacements for. Pep will realise this and make it his highest priority in the Summer, if not in the January transfer window. Luckily for us though, it’s highly unlikely a deal could be done in time for our game against them.

Surprise Spurs

City’s slump has yielded the surprising result of Spurs coming out of nowhere to pop up in second place, six points behind the Reds. Due to this, many people are now suggesting that we’re now looking at a three horse race.

It’d be foolish to dismiss Spurs only halfway into the season, after all, they’re playing good football, but I personally still see City as by far our biggest competition. City speak for themselves, but the reasons that I’m not too concerned about Spurs are the situation with their stadium, and the fact that they have an extremely fragile squad.

When (or perhaps if they move this season), it’ll probably coincide with a downturn in form, as is historically typical for clubs who move grounds. Liverpool’s squad has faced and bested the test of injuries and suspensions and never took a backwards step, but the same can’t really be said of Spurs. What would happen if Kane missed a run of games? What will happen when Son goes off to play for South Korea?

Arsenal at Anfield

As I alluded to earlier though, we’re wasting our time by worrying and wondering about our rivals. Now that we have a lead, all that matters is what we do. We’ve bought ourselves some breathing space now, it’s time to take advantage of that fact.

Next up is our clash against Arsenal. The Gunners were excellent when we met them earlier in the season, but since then they’ve suffered a bad dip in form and, crucially, have had to endure a period where they have few fit defenders.

Arsenal’s misfortune has to be capitalised on, and it would be a real shame to give City and Spurs a lifeline in a game that, on paper, we really should be winning. If we can get three points at Anfield, then City will be under tremendous pressure to reduce the 7 point gap once we travel to the Etihad.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 27/12/2018

Wolves 0 – 2 Liverpool: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Reds Top at Xmas

Liverpool took their chance to seal the top spot on the Premier League table for Christmas after what was ultimately a professional, if at times difficult, night. Wolves are a good team and they deservedly find themselves just behind ‘the big six’ clubs in seventh place.

Despite the Reds’ excellent run of results and encouraging form, this game had ‘potential banana peel’ written all over it. This point is further emphasised by the fact that Wolves are so far the only other team in the League to take points off of Manchester City apart from Liverpool and Chelsea.

Nevertheless, Klopp’s men were able to get the job done relatively comfortably despite a couple of nervy moments in testing conditions. Goals for Salah and van Dijk were enough to see Liverpool through with a 2-0 victory.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo

Player Ratings

Alisson – 7.5

Alisson bounced back from his high-profile, but ultimately meaningless, error against Manchester United to put in a solid performance in tricky conditions for a ‘keeper.

He didn’t have much to do with his hands though, and when he was called into action, it was to cover for a teammate who’d carelessly given possession away in our defensive third. His control with his feet was typically impressive, and in any case, he handled himself well despite the weather.

James Milner – 7.5

The respect and trust that the squad and management have for Milner was on show again as despite Clyne’s admirable performance last week, Klopp didn’t hesitate to put Milner in at right-back now that he’s recovered from a minor injury.

Despite taking a while to get into the game, Milner was able to justify the faith that the manager showed him. He used the ball effectively and coped with the defensive side of the game well after struggling early on with how frequently he was being targeted.

Dejan Lovren – 6.5

Lovren was one of the more guilty parties that required Alisson to rescue them with some simple, but crucial saves. To be fair though, he hardly put a foot wrong in the second half. It’s doubtful that Lovren with ever be able to entirely distance himself from the clumsy accident waiting to happen that many see him as. However, if he continues to minimise these mistakes and those around him are able to cover for him, then he’ll still be a serviceable and valuable member of the squad until the end of the season.

Virgil van Dijk – (Man of the Match) 9.5

It feels odd to consider where a player that’s been at the club for less than a year fits into the discussion of all-time greatest centre-backs that our club’s ever seen, but such has been the impact of VVD at Liverpool. He showed the perfect balance of strength, pace, and intelligence to deal with the dangerous duo of Adama Traore and Raul Jiminez.

He rounded out the result with a deserved and expertly-taken goal that you’d expect to see from a top striker, not a centre-back. That was also, surprisingly, his first in the League for the club, but clean sheets are far more important, and he’s delivered plenty of those.

Andy Robertson – 7

Robbo appeared to struggle to come to grips with the weather and to appropriately adjust his approach to suit it, which did strike me as odd considering he’s Scottish!

Like Lovren though, Robbo improved greatly in the second half. He ran as hard as ever and made a few important defensive contributions, but his passing was far below the standards that he’s set for himself in the last 12 months.

2018 EPL Premier League Football Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool Dec 21st : News Photo

Fabinho – 7.5

Fresh off of a Man of the Match performance against Manchester United, Fabinho seemed determined to use that game as a springboard to really get his Liverpool career going. While he wasn’t quite as impactful against Wolves as he was against the Mancs, he still played a big part in the victory.

His only mistake, thankfully, led to nothing after he passed the ball straight to a Wolves attacker on the edge of the box. Aside from this moment of madness though, he broke up attacks well, played his way out of tricky situations, and bagged his second assist in two games, this time through a pinpoint cutback to Salah.

Jordan Henderson – 7.5

Hendo won’t get the same plaudits that Fabinho is rightfully earning, but the captain is steadily playing his way into Liverpool’s best XI with his recent performances that’ve been a monumental improvement over some dull displays earlier in the season.

He reacted to the conditions better than any player on the park and was regularly first to loose balls, quick to shut down attacking movements before they happened, and got the ball moving quickly. The next step is to make these performances much more regular.

Bobby Firmino – 7

Bobby appears to be edging closer and closer to his best. He was by no means bad in this game, but he’s still not quite back yet despite some encouraging signs.

He looked good early on and seemed more comfortable with picking up the ball from a far deeper position than he has in some other games, but he appeared to fatigue badly as the game wore on. Some of his touches were sublime though, and he almost recreated his stunning moment from the United game when he wriggled through a few Wolves defenders, but this time, his shot was blocked.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo

Sadio Mane – 7

This is what a ‘bad night’ for Mane tends to look like. He almost never has a terrible game, but on night’s like the Wolves match he gets into wonderful positions and then either wastes them with a poor final ball or sabotages himself with a hideous first touch.

His decision making encouragingly improved as the game went on, and it’s comforting to know that Mane’s still a threat when he’s playing near his worst.

Naby Keita – 6

Keita started well, but utterly crumbled as the game went on and his unenviable tendency to turn the ball over far too easily in our own half gave Wolves far more chances than they should’ve had. He needs to start building on the flashes of talent that we’ve seen.

Worryingly, he was hauled off injured, but Klopp seemed certain that it was nothing too serious. Injuries and role changes have certainly played their part in his slow start and his tendency to go down easily in this match may have been a sign of his low confidence.

Mo Salah – 9

All Reds fans are ecstatic with the fact that Salah is back to his near-best given the important run of fixtures that we’re still in the middle of, and in the context of this season’s significance.

Salah scored again to take him back to the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts with a lovely flicked finish, and he might count himself unlucky not to have added to that total further. He also assisted VVD’s goal with a sumptuous cross that took out the entire defensive line.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo


Adam Lallana – (on for Keita 58′) 7

Regardless of what you may think of him or his long-term future at the club, every player will need to play their part this season, and that includes Lallana. His energy and experience helped see the game out, and sometimes that’s all you really need from a substitute. In certain games, it’s invaluable.

Gini Wijnaldum – (on for Firmino 76′) 6

Gini helped sure up the midfield once he came on. An important, but thankless task.

Nathaniel Clyne – (on for Mane 87′) N/A

No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge.


Jurgen Klopp – 9

As has been the case for quite a while now, Klopp got his team selection spot on, and his decisions to play Milner at right-back, as well as a midfield duo of Hendo and Fabinho worked a treat.

Klopp also used his subs wisely by taking a player off early who was struggling and had picked up a knock in Keita, and then hooking Firmino off once he began to fatigue. Arguably the Mane substitution perhaps should’ve happened at this time as well to keep as many key players as fresh as possible, but that’d be a severe case of nitpicking.

One criticism I will standby however is Klopp’s continued erratic use of Keita. It’s not just that the Guinean hasn’t gotten the chance to play in a run of games yet, (although to be fair, that’s partially down to injury and to a lesser extent form), it’s that when he is played, it’s never in the same position or role that he took up on the previous occasion. It’s making a tough situation more difficult than it needs to be. I believe this is the key issue in his lackluster form and clear dip in confidence. I trust Klopp to get this right eventually, but I’d like it to happen ASAP. We need the Keita from the opening game back.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo

Talking Points

Bigger Win Than Perceived

Given how far Liverpool have come in the last 12 months or so, you can forgive some fans and pundits for overlooking this win as expected and therefore more a case of 0 points dropped rather than 3 points gained.

However, Wolves are no slouches, as City and Chelsea found out, so going to the Molineux was never going to be an easy affair, but crucially, we did it on a night where the conditions made a difficult task truly taxing. Fans put up with the rain, snow, and freezing cold well enough, but its effect on an attacking team like Liverpool shouldn’t be underestimated.

It would’ve been so easy to get drawn into a scrappy match after a number of passes didn’t stick early on, and who knows if the result would’ve been the same if that happened. The Reds dug in though, and the fact that we played the game more or less on our own terms is extremely impressive under the circumstances.

Scoring and Smiling

One of the biggest positives from the game flew under the radar due to the nature of the win and its importance to the title race. However, it didn’t escape my attention that Salah was beaming both after his own goal and his assist for VVD’s.

I of course never expected the media to come out and admit that they were fanning the flames of an issue that likely never existed for weeks by promoting the idea that Salah was unhappy and therefore wasn’t celebrating his goals. However, they have at least dropped their agenda that Salah’s somehow having a terrible season.

All fans could see he wasn’t quite at his best before, but he was still getting in the right positions, still creating chances for himself and others, still causing defences major headaches, and most importantly, still scoring goals. He’s top of the charts in the League right now, and that’s not just thanks to a few good weeks, that’s down to a classy player who’s dangerous even when he’s not playing up to his own lofty standards.

Woah, We’re Halfway There

Or at least, very nearly halfway there. The point being that while it’s great that everyone around the club is buzzing and the fans and players are feeling confident, it’s important not to let our feet get too far off of the ground, there’s still a long hard road ahead.

A lot is made in the media of the statistical fact that usually the team on top at Christmas is the team that goes on to lift the Premier League trophy in May, but nothing is guaranteed, and certainly nothing is won in December.

Klopp and his men (apart from perhaps Lovren who’s predicted an unbeaten season) are adamant that they’re only taking things one game at a time. There’s no reason people can’t get excited or dream about what may come, but perhaps some of us fans would do well by taking the same approach. It’d certainly make each game less anxiety-inducing… Who am I kidding? Anxiety and Liverpool fans are inseparable forces!

As this is likely to be my last piece before Christmas, I’d just like to thank all the FOAR readers, and especially those of you who follow me on social media and engage in discussion down in the comment section. I always look forward to reading the comments from other fans’ for their takes on the game, players, manager, and club in general. Thank you for making me feel very welcome in my first season on FOAR.

Happy Holidays!

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 23/12/2018

Liverpool 3 – 1 Manchester United: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Merry Christmas Mourinho

A visit from Manchester United is always a nervy affair, especially considering it’s been quite a while since we’ve beaten them in the League. That stat would make some believe that United have been dominating us when in fact, it’s been quite the opposite. They’ve just been stubborn and lucky with their deep defending and counter-attacks.

The injuries we suffered before the game suggested that a similar result was on the cards, and after Alisson’s mistake, it felt like déjà vu. The Reds dug deep though and refused to allow Mourinho’s men to knick another undeserved result.

Shaqiri was the hero in the end, scoring two goals to secure a 3-1 victory for the Reds. Mane gave the home side the lead after some wonderful link-up play before Super Shaq got on the right side of two deflections and sealed a deserved win.

Liverpool FC v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

Player Ratings

Alisson – 5.5

It’s just Liverpool’s luck that even when we finally land a top class ‘keeper, he still makes the odd howler. In fairness to Alisson, he was pretty unfortunate because although he slightly bobbled the catch, he would’ve secured it once he landed on the ground. In this instance though, his own knee knocked the ball loose and right into the path of Jesse Lingard.

Thankfully it didn’t matter in the end because his team bailed him out at the other end, which was a nice touch after Alisson bailed them out plenty of times, particularly against Napoli. He didn’t seem too phased by the mistake and finished the game well, especially with his quick and precise distribution.

Nathaniel Clyne – 8

Who can honestly say they weren’t even a little bit nervous to see Clyne’s name on the team sheet lining up against Marcus Rashford? Furthermore, who truly believed he’d have an outstanding game? I certainly didn’t, but I was extremely pleased to have been proven wrong.

He did fatigue badly as the game went on, but that’s to be expected from a player who’s played so little football in the last few years. He overlapped Mane well all game, even when his runs were ignored. He wasn’t able to do too much with the ball, but his defending was absolutely spot on.

Dejan Lovren – 7

Lovren was solid, no more, no less. Aside from a couple of moments, he rarely allowed his man to get the better of him, and he looked composed on the ball without being too potent.

He might’ve done better when he swung clumsily at a loose ball that could’ve put the score to 2-0, but it’s difficult to expect a centre-back to keep a cool head in the opposition’s box. Whatever your thoughts are on the player, we need badly need him until Gomez and Matip are back.

Virgil van Dijk – 9

VVD’s the best in the League, if not the world right now. It’s so refreshing to have a defender who combines composure and commanding leadership so seamlessly with pure talent and ability. There were so many times that he was under pressure at the back, but made a tricky turn and pass look easy.

Romelu Lukaku had fewer touches of the ball in 90 minutes than Shaqiri had in about 20, and that’s largely down to the fact that van Dijk didn’t let the Belgian out of his back pocket all night.

Andy Robertson – 8.5

Robbo was tireless again, but I have to lower his mark slightly due to the corner fiasco. He’s an inspirational lad and never shies away from a big game or a big performance. Aside from the corners, you know you’ve had a good game when misery guts Moaninho singles you out for praise.

The United manager said, “I am still tired just from looking at (Andy) Robertson! He makes 100-metre sprints every minute – absolutely incredible.” It sounds like Mourinho knows how big the gap between the two sides is.

2018 EPL Premier League Football Liverpool v Man Utd Dec 16th : News Photo

Fabinho – 9.5 (Man of the Match)

There were a few grumbles around the stadium during the first few minutes because Fab kept misplacing his passes. It seemed at first that the occasion was getting to him. How wrong we were! Fab was phenomenal for the rest of the game, winning tackles, creating chances, and threatening with long shots. It was a truly complete performance.

His pass over the top to Mane was inch-perfect. He lobbed it beyond the defence and dropped it right onto the chest of Mane. If Fab can build on these kinds of performances, he’ll become the best holding midfielder the club’s seen in the Premier League era.

Gini Wijnaldum – 7.5

Gini was very tidy against the Mancs, never gifting them any easy possession by giving the ball away. Even when it looked like he was running down a blind alley, he was still able to wriggle his way out.

He wasn’t exactly dominant, and he’ll have to face more resilient midfield units this season, but games like these are becoming the benchmark for Gini lately. His ‘worst day’ isn’t nearly as bad or frequent as it used to be.

Naby Keita – 6.5

It was a mixed bag for Keita on a night when he really could’ve taken the game by the scruff of the neck and exploited United’s weaker midfield and dicey defence.

He wasn’t bad. It’s just with his recent form and the fact that he was rested specifically for this game, you’d expect more. He was always nearly producing something, and a put in a good shift defensively, but ultimately, he wasn’t quite good enough. In fairness, he’s still not started many matches and has been forced to play a different role almost every single game.

Liverpool FC v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

Mo Salah – 7

This was Salah’s worst performance for a few weeks now after going on a run of goals and good performances. He didn’t let the team down by any means of course, he just wasn’t as influential as he could’ve been.

Even on an average night, he was able to cause panic in United’s defensive ranks, but his decision making in the box let him down far too often, and he even managed to leave the ball behind during one counter-attack.

Sadio Mane – 8.5

Some have argued that Mane didn’t have a great game against United, but even though he might’ve given the ball away a few too many times, he still scored a cracking goal from a perfect touch and finish, and then set-up the second with some sublime dribbling.

He looked knackered in the second half, which may explain why he so casually gave the ball away frequently as the game went on. Klopp probably should’ve subbed him far sooner than he did.

Bobby Firmino – 8.5

Bobby’s getting there. His class and creativity were on show against United, and although he didn’t get a goal or assist, he created plenty of half chances with his passing and shooting, particularly when he dribbled through three United defenders and got an outside of the boot shot away.

Maybe it was just me being paranoid, but I thought I saw him rubbing his eye a couple of times during the game. I hope that he’s not still suffering from that horrific eye poke he received weeks ago.

Liverpool FC v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo


Xherdan Shaqiri – (on for Keita 70′) 10

Shaq was worth every penny. Of course both goals had more than a touch of luck about them, but you create your own good fortune when you get yourself as involved as Shaq did. What a confidence booster for himself and the rest of the team.

Jordan Henderson – (on for Mane 83′) N/A

Hendo’s only involvement was firing over on his weak foot after some good linkup play.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Rafa Camacho, Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge.


Jurgen Klopp – 9

Klopp got his team selection spot on again. What a gamble it was to bring Clyne back into the starting lineup after so much time on the sidelines, particularly in such a big game. Once again though, his gamble paid off.

Klopp said, “Nathaniel Clyne, first [league] game of the season. Brilliant, [he] adapted to the style after being not involved. Outstanding. All the boys worked so hard after Tuesday’s game. Now we have to carry on.”

This fixture has been somewhat of a bogey for Klopp since he’s arrived, and more often than not, Mourinho’s gotten the better of him. Sometimes it’s been down to luck, but often the wily Portuguese manager as simply gotten the better of the German tactically, that wasn’t the case this time though. It was Mourinho who was forced to dictate his game around Klopp this time as the former had clearly set his team up to be more aggressive than usual, but Klopp’s tactics forced United to retreat back into their boring, defensive shells.

Liverpool FC v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

Talking Points

Mind the Gap

Liverpool are now a whopping 19 points clear of Manchester United, but points aren’t the only way to measure the immense gulf between the two sides. Liverpool haven’t won anything under Klopp, but the strides that the club have made in that short space of time are virtually unparalleled.

United have done the complete opposite. It’s rare that you see such a great team fall so far so quickly, but that’s what’s happened at Old Trafford. The style of football is the antithesis of what you’d expect from a United side, and some of the stats from the game were telling.

Liverpool had 36 shots and 65% possession to United’s 6 shots and 35% possession. Incredibly, every single one of Liverpool’s outfield players, including the subs, had at least one shot against United. These are the kinds of stats you’d expect from a relegation side, not Manchester United. Surely Mourinho’s got to go soon.

Corner Comedy

Aside from perhaps Keita and Salah not quite being at the races, the only negative to take out of the game was the absolute comedy of errors that was Liverpool’s corners. Just about everyone had a crack at some point or another, but not one of them could clear the man at the front post.

At one point, Salah mercifully took over from Robbo who’d been copping it for hardly getting the ball off of the ground, but when the Egyptian stepped up, he did practically the same thing! In hindsight, it was quite funny, but only because we won in the end.

A team as good as ours shouldn’t be wasting any opportunities, certainly not from set-pieces considering we have a handful of players who are very good in the air. We’re doing ourselves a disservice every time the ball isn’t delivered into a dangerous area. Klopp needs the players to do more work on the training ground to get the corners right.

Back on Top

The win saw Liverpool return to the top of the table after Everton put in a fairly limp performance to gift Manchester City an easy win to put them two points clear.

Liverpool play first next week though, so a win against Wolves will see us, at least temporarily, four points ahead at the top of the table. Getting a win at the Molineux won’t be easy though, as this Wolves side are well up for it. Let’s not forget they managed to knick a draw off of City earlier in the season.

Thankfully Liverpool will have a full week to rest up and prepare for the game as opposed to City who take on Leicester in the Carabao Cup midweek before their game against Crystal Palace at the weekend.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 17/12/2018

Liverpool 1 – 0 Napoli: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Reds Move on to the Knockout Rounds

On a night where a professional and clinical effort was needed, every member of the team stood up and was counted. Liverpool faced relegation to the Europa League if they failed, but the Reds never looked like doing so.

Mo Salah, the Egyptian King, continued his resurgence with the first and only goal in the 35th minute, ultimately sealing the Reds’ progression. It was a well-taken effort and one that the team deserved after the string of chances that preceded and followed the goal.

There were some nervy moments throughout, particularly towards the end, but part of that stems from us fans still coming to terms with the fact that our team is more than capable of defending a narrow lead now.

Liverpool v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League Group C : News Photo

Player Ratings

Alisson – (Man of the Match) 10

Normally when the ‘keeper receives the man of the match award it reflects poorly on the rest of the team as it suggests they didn’t do much with the ball and didn’t protect their own goal enough. That isn’t the case here though.

Alisson was a wall all night and his only mistake was one poor pass. He produced what has to go down as the moment of the season so far with his last-minute save to deny Arkadiusz Milik a goal that would’ve sent the Reds crashing out of the tournament. He had no right to block a shot from that distance, yet, this is the standard the Brazilian has set for himself since he’s arrived. Best ‘keeper in the world? Quite possibly.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.5

Trent had a nightmare against Napoli last time, and the Italians hadn’t forgotten as they targeted his side all night, but unlike last time, the Scouser was up for the challenge, aside from a couple of moments where the opposition got the better of him.

Furthermore, he provided a few well-placed balls into the box which could’ve led to goals, including one that Milner probably scored from. Sadly, he was brought off through injury late into the game, but let’s hope it’s not serious enough to keep him out of the United game.

Joel Matip – 8

Matip had another excellent game, but like TAA, he too faces a nervous wait to see how serious his injury is. His side was favoured by the opposition again, but he was able to deal with everything Napoli threw at him.

He was equally as strong in the air as he was on the ground, and crucially, his passing was mostly impeccable. We haven’t seen the best of Matip’s passing as he’s still used to hoofing it under pressure because he couldn’t trust his ‘keeper enough to pass it back. Once he’s more comfortable with this new style though, he’ll get even better.

Virgil van Dijk – 9

There was concern from the fans when VVD picked an early, and harsh, yellow card, but the only person who didn’t seem phased by it was the man himself. Other centre-backs might’ve let the anxiety get to them, but the big Dutchman was as confident as ever.

He made countless interventions to stop Napoli’s attackers in their tracks, which forced them to begin shooting from distance. Unfortunately, the booking means he’ll miss the first leg of our round of 16 game next year. 

Andy Robertson – 8.5

He’s done it again. How much more of this will it take before neutral fans start recognising the fact that Robbo has well and truly developed into one of the world’s best after only 12 months or so as a regular in the team?

His defending was good, but it was his attacking runs that really caught the eye; he was relentless. He should’ve had an assist when Mane wasted a glorious chance, but Robbo’s tenacious running alone helped the team by pinning Napoli’s right flank back.

Liverpool v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League Group C : News Photo

Jordan Henderson – 8.5

A season-best performance couldn’t have come at a better time for our under-fire captain. Many, including myself, were simply baffled when Hendo was included ahead of Fabinho and Keita, but the Englishman calmed all fears with a true captain’s performance.

It wasn’t just that he was crunching into tackles and breaking up play, it was that he answered his critics with some driving runs and, most importantly, got the ball moving forward as quickly as possible. If he can keep that up, then a lot of the hate he gets online will simply vanish.

Gini Wijnaldum – 9

For the first time in what feels like months we got to see the real Gini Wijnaldum. Even at his worst, Gini’s able to retain possession under pressure incredibly well, so getting the ball off of him on a night like this was mission impossible.

Unlike in previous performances, he maintained a high standard until the final whistle and played a deciding role in limiting Napoli’s chances late on. He was certainly the catalyst for linking everything up on the night.

James Milner – 8.5

Not to be forgotten, Milner also had a tremendous game. The engine he possess is simply staggering, and he was an utter nightmare for Napoli’s midfielders all night.

The only criticism of his performance was that he could’ve gotten himself a couple of goals. His first chance came from an excellent cross from TAA and the next game just before he was subbed when he narrowly shot past the upright.

Liverpool v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League Group C : News Photo

Mo Salah – 9

He’s never gonna stop. Mo Salah is on fire right now! He did miss a big chance early on when his first touch let him down and had another couple of opportunities to score, but in the end, it was his goal that sent us through.

He got past Kalidou Koulibaly, which is no mean feat, and then put the ball into the back of the net with a lovely finish from a difficult angle, embarrassing a flailing David Ospina in the process.

Sadio Mane – 6.5

Given his effort over the 90 minutes, it feels harsh to give Mane such a low rating, but he did miss some glaring chances that could’ve made the night so much easier and less stressful.

Encouragingly, he kept getting into the right positions, but his finishing was very poor by his standards. Let’s hope he makes up for it with a goal or two against United!

Bobby Firmino – 7

It’s a shame that Bobby’s yet to go through the same resurgence that Mo is experiencing, but I’ve got no doubt that a return to his best form is just around the corner.

He’s already getting better though, and against Napoli, he showed glimpses of what he’s capable of. He set up a few chances and clearly looks more comfortable up top than in behind in a 4-2-3-1.


Liverpool v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League Group C : News Photo


Naby Keita – (on for Firmino 79′) 7

It was a surprise not to see Keita in the starting lineup, but that’s perhaps a sign he’ll start against United. He gave the team a lift when he came on, disrupting Napoli’s attempts to overrun us.

Fabinho – (on for Milner 85′) N/A

Fab didn’t have enough time on the pitch for a proper rating, but his aerial presence was invaluable late on.

Dejan Lovren – (on for Alexander-Arnold 89′) N/A

The Croat had one ‘classic Lovren’ moment, but luckily the failed clearance didn’t lead to anything.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Xherdan Shaqiri, Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi


Jurgen Klopp – 9

Most fans, including myself, doubted Klopp’s midfield selection before the game, and some thought the decision was downright mad given Fabinho and Keita’s form and the importance of the match itself.

Once again though, Klopp proved everyone wrong and was rewarded for this faith in his more experienced midfield trio. This decision, or gamble in the eyes of some, was arguably the deciding factor in the game. People can point at the Salah goal or the Alisson save, but the fact is that the midfield won us that game.

His shrewd selections also mean that Shaq, Fab, and Keita are completely fresh and ready to hammer United when they come to Anfield on the weekend.

Liverpool v SSC Napoli - UEFA Champions League Group C : News Photo

Talking Points

Huge Result

It’s a strange time in modern football that many fans have admitted that they’d have rathered drop out of Europe entirely than have gone into the Europa League.

I’ll admit, I was one of those fans. Regardless of how other people may view it, I have little to no interest in Europe’s second division and view it mainly as an unnecessary distraction unless you reach the semis. It means so much extra travelling and far less time on the training pitch as a result, which is a luxury we can’t afford when we’re trying to hold off Manchester City.

Now that we’re in the Champions League knockouts though, I hope we go far. Yes, it also means travel and less preparation, but the UCL still holds value for fans and players alike. We can’t claim to be a big club while also hoping to go out in the next round so we can focus our efforts on the EPL, we should have enough to compete on two fronts.

Red Redemption

This games, along with the previous few, have seen multiple Reds redeem themselves in the eyes of the fans after a mediocre start to the season that’s been masked by terrific results.

Starting at the back, Matip’s been a revelation after we all lamented the temporary loss of Gomez. If he can keep this up, and stay fit of course, then he’ll have cemented his place in the squad for many seasons to come. Salah’s return has been talked about to death, but it can’t be overemphasised how important he is to the side.

The midfield deserves the most praise though in this regard. Not only did the starting trio play brilliantly, but it came after Fabinho and Keita had played their way back into the side. We now have 5 legitimate options in midfield at the most crucial point of our season so far. 

Bring on United

I’m always nervous about United games. They mean so much to me in that a win can make a poor season acceptable, and a good season a frustrating one if we lose or have a bad draw. This season’s clash will see the stakes raised even further in the context of our title chase and Jose Mourinho’s efforts to stay in a job.

Jose will likely try and do to us what he did last season and use Rashford, and possibly Martial’s, pace to hurt us on the counter after keeping almost everyone behind the ball and soaking up as much pressure as possible.

This is why Gomez is a big loss because his pace would’ve negated that plan. Matip can catch these players over a long distance too though, so his inclusion would be acceptable, particularly if TAA can’t play so Milner shifts back to right-back. Lovren would struggle with this and his inferior passing ability would trouble us given the fact that our backline will see a lot of possession throughout the game.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 12/12/2018

Bournemouth 0 – 4 Liverpool: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Liverpool Take Top Spot

Liverpool have gone top of the league after defeating Bournemouth 4-0 at the Vitality Stadium, while Manchester City lost 2-0 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Mo Salah tapped in the only goal of the first half from a marginally offside position after Firmino forced the Bournemouth ‘keeper into an awkward save.

Liverpool ran riot in the second half with another two goals from Salah to complete his hat-trick, as well as an own goal from a tricky Robertson cross.


Player Ratings

Alisson – 8

Our ‘keeper is looking completely unstoppable at the moment. He was slightly busier than he might’ve expected to have been against Bournemouth, but that was no problem for him.

He made a strong save to deny David Brooks (who looks an exciting prospect) early on in the match, and never looked back. Alisson had no case to answer for when Joshua King went down in the box, and the Brazilian made Junior Stanislas look silly when he easily caught the winger’s swerving free-kick.

James Milner – 7

It was slightly surprising to see Milner at right-back, although resting Alexander-Arnold made sense given that the latter had to play most of the Burnley game when he should’ve been resting.

In any case, Milner was as reliable as ever and showed tremendous industry to go along with his attacking thrust. His only real blemish was a dodgy clearance which Alisson was forced to deal with using his head.

Joel Matip – 7.5

Gomez’s long-term injury opened the door for Lovren to try and reclaim his place in the side after an impressive end to last season. However, he too was ruled out of this match, so it was Matip who had to step up.

Matip did well throughout, remaining neat and tidy while showing moments of dominance. It’ll take more than one game to convince the fans that he should remain ahead of Lovren, but one fact that’s indisputable is that Matip is far better on the ball than the Croat.

Virgil van Dijk – 8.5

There’s not much to say about VVD’s performance other than he was typically solid and commanded the line to perfection.

It’s nothing short of incredible that he’s played for Liverpool 30 times in the League and already amassed 17 clean sheets in that time. Where would we be without him?

Andy Robertson – 8

Robbo returned to action after missing the Burnley game. He was resting up and nursing a minor niggle before the important run of fixtures that looms ahead.

Brooks was causing him problems at times, but the tables soon turned. His ‘assist’ for the own goal was a deserving reward after another excellent day for the Scot in both attack and defence.

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo

Fabinho – 8.5

If TAA wasn’t playing, then you’d expect Fabinho to be the one to shift to right-back, as he’s played there for a significant portion of his career. Trust Klopp to make the right call though, the Brazilian was a wall in the middle of the park.

This is exactly why we bought him. While everyone else is bombing forward, Fab can sit back and be the safety pin to make sure that we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot. He was immense at breaking up play and got the ball moving again quickly.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6.5

Gini wasn’t too bad, and he was far more effective with the ball at his feet than in some recent games. Perhaps he was just a victim of the fact that practically everyone else had a blinder.

In any case, he was a bit too sloppy at times and was far too casual in giving away possession. He did seem to combine well with Fabinho defensively though.

Naby Keita – 7.5

Keita didn’t quite reach the heights of his performance against Burnley, in part due to being shifted out onto the left, but he still did enough to assure fans that his last game was no fluke.

He was probably the Reds’ brightest spark in the first half, especially when he was doing his trademark direct dribbling. He probably would’ve gotten a higher score if he were given the ball more often.

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo

Xherdan Shaqiri – 7

It’s strange. As the team’s performances have been getting better, Shaq’s been disappearing. That might be slightly harsh, but he was the only attacker with anything about him earlier in the season, maybe I’m just noticing him less now.

He wasn’t bad in this game, or any other for that matter, he just wasn’t as involved in either his attacking or defensive duties as we’ve come to expect. He was better in the first half but completely drifted out of the game in the second.

Bobby Firmino – 7.5

There was a lot of concern from many fans, including myself, who worried that Bobby was going backwards and was miles away from his best this season. Luckily, he scored a goal against Burnley which seemed to reinvigorate him and restore some confidence.

He carried that into the Bournemouth game, and while he still wasn’t the same Bobby as last year, he did show some creativity that had been lacking recently. His role was a bit unusual in the sense that he was much higher than in previous games when he’s played as a 10, but still not as high as Salah. Perhaps Klopp has chosen to adjust in this manner to try and restore Firmino’s dominant performances.

Mo Salah – (Man of the Match) 10

He’s back. Maybe it’s too soon to declare that outright, but it certainly felt that way against Bournemouth. It should be noted that Nathan Ake is no chump, but Salah made him look like an amateur all afternoon.

His second goal was particularly impressive as he stayed on his feet after having his ankle clipped, before finishing under Ake and past Asmir Begovic. The third was as brilliant as it was comical. Salah rounded Begovic twice, and Steve Cook once, before arrogantly slotting the ball past Ake.

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo


Adam Lallana – (on for Keita 65′) 7

Fair dues to Lallana, he got the assist for Mo’s hat-trick goal and was generally active once he came on.

Sadio Mane – (on for Shaqiri 65′) 7

Mane wasn’t too involved, but he helped pin Bournemouth back. It’s more than likely he was reserving himself for Napoli, especially after his knock.

Jordan Henderson – (on for Firmino 81′) 6

Hendo didn’t have much time to do anything, but he was far more aggressive than Fabinho in getting forward. Of course, he could afford to do that at 4-0.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Daniel Sturridge, and Divock Origi.


Jurgen Klopp – 9

Another week, another gamble that paid off in Klopp’s favour. This time it was to do with a few specific decisions. Firstly, he chose to play Milner at right-back instead of Fabinho, both of whom had an excellent game in their designated positions. Secondly, Klopp pushed Keita out onto the left, and Keita did a more than serviceable job, even if he wasn’t as involved as he would’ve liked. Lastly, he restored Bobby to a higher role, which did, and will continue to, pay dividends.

Klopp should be applauded for getting these calls right, and it just goes to show how diverse his squad is in the multiple roles and positions that each player can handle. It was these big calls that led to what’s arguably Liverpool’s best performance of the season.

Salah too benefited from the attack being adjusted, and both he and Klopp were rewarded with a long overdue hat-trick. Likewise, the manager utilised his bench well and ensured that everyone is as well rested as they can possibly be before the Napoli match and then the Manchester United game after that.

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo

Talking Points

Milner’s 500th

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention James Milner on his 500th League appearance. What a man, and what an achievement!

Milner’s had an incredible career, and I’m sure all of us Reds fans hope that he continues with us for a few more seasons. He’s invaluable to the team whether as a starter or off the bench. Likewise, he’s equally comfortable controlling the game in the middle of the park, shutting down wingers as a fullback, or pinging in inch-perfect crosses as a wide-man.

The high regard that his teammates hold him in was demonstrated when Mo Salah refused to accept the man of the match award, and instead gave it to Milner. A fitting gesture for a true legend of the Premier League era.

Mo’s Revival

Speaking of Mo, he reached an incredible milestone of his own against Bournemouth, he became Liverpool’s 9th highest Premier League goal-scorer of all time, despite only being at the club for a season and a half.

Salah’s now on 42 League goals after only 52 appearances in the competition. To put that in perspective, Phillipe Coutinho (who Salah overtook, alongside Steve McManaman) took 152 games to get to 41 goals. What Salah has managed to achieve during his short time on Merseyside is simply phenomenal.

His resurgence couldn’t have come at a better time either, because the next two games could have significant implications on how the rest of the season will play out.

Going Top

Chelsea have done Liverpool a massive favour by defeating City, and not just because it sends us top, or because it leaves us as the only remaining undefeated team, but because the result means that City got 0 points from that same fixture that Liverpool got 1 from. Results like that are what decide titles. Although, in fairness, the result might’ve been different if Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne had’ve played.

For now though, it’s important to not get too far ahead of ourselves as Napoli are on their way. We all know what’s needed at Anfield, but the consequences of failure could prove fatal to our title chase as the Europa League is far more taxing than the Champions League. If we’re relegated, then we should hope that Klopp sends a B team to every Europa League game he can afford to and accept that elimination could stem from that decision.

Either way, the next EPL fixture is against Man Utd, and we can’t afford to let our lead slip so soon. Jose Mourinho has a habit of raining on Liverpool’s parade, and despite us being the better side under Klopp, our record against the Scum isn’t as good as it should be. It’s time to rectify that.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 09/12/2018

Burnley 1 – 3 Liverpool: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Weakened Reds Win at Turf Moor

At the risk of sounding like Brendan Rodgers – I thought we showed great character against Burnley. Snatching a win at Turf Moor is never easy, and if you add in the context of a heavily rotated side going down 1-0 to a sloppy goal in the second half, it makes the result even more impressive.

Burnley bundled home the opener from a corner through Jack Cork, but in a manner that’s only started to emerge recently, Liverpool battled back against a defensive side away to win definitively.

Milner got us back into the game with a clever finish beyond Joe Hart before Firmino tapped home a well-worked set-piece routine. The Reds endured some nervy moments towards the end of the game before Shaqiri secured the result from a counter-attack.

Embed from Getty Images

Player Ratings

Alisson – 8

Another week; another outstanding display by our ‘keeper. Alisson struggled early with some uncharacteristically wayward passing, but he more than made up for that with the rest of his performance.

Burnley were unable to trouble him until they scored their goal. The defence weren’t much help as the opposition were able to win the header too easily, and almost latch on to the second ball, before booting it out of Alisson’s grasp. The ‘keeper could’ve been stronger, but he can’t accept too much of the blame. His late save off the crossbar was nothing short of heroic and certainly rescued two points for the team. Money well spent.

Joe Gomez – 6

Gomez had little to do before being worryingly stretchered off after just 23 minutes.

It looked like a serious injury, and Klopp confirmed that Gomez will be getting scans to assess the situation. All fans will be praying that he’s back very soon.

Joel Matip – 6

Matip wasn’t too bad, but he did little to make the fans forget about their concerns for Gomez and the latter’s importance at centre-back.

Matip looked understandably rusty, and he’ll get more minutes during December and early January, but even with some leniency due to rustiness, the Cameroonian didn’t look particularly comfortable. He got better as the game went on though, so hopefully there’s still some life in his Liverpool career yet.

Virgil van Dijk – 8

VVD was back to his best against Burnley and helped the makeshift defence over the line to victory. One or two passes aside, his distribution was typically on point, and as usual, he was utterly dominant in the air.

He had a chance to snatch a goal, but couldn’t direct his header past Hart; he did make up for it with an assist though. VVD acrobatically got on the end of an Alexander-Arnold cross and directed the ball into the path of Firmino. A complete performance from the big man.

Alberto Moreno – 6

Moreno wasn’t too bad. Nobody wanted to see his name on the teamsheet, even if Robbo needed and deserved a rest. The memories of some of the Spaniard’s worst moments is too much to let go of for most supporters.

Regardless, Moreno did okay without getting close to Robbo’s level, but he never let the team down before getting hooked off midway through the second half.

Embed from Getty Images

Jordan Henderson – 6.5

Hendo returned to the starting lineup after missing the Everton game through suspension. However, it was more of the same from our captain, passing backwards and slowing down the play. His most memorable moment was when he slipped over.

He did improve in the second half though, and even played some forward passes. Crucially, he managed to snuff out a dangerous looking Burnley attack late in the game and did well to release Salah, but nothing came from the chance. If Hendo can play every game the way he did the second half, then maybe he’ll get some slack from his critics, even if he can’t fully win them over.

Naby Keita – (Man of the Match) 8.5

What a time to kick-start your Liverpool career. Keita was simply brilliant on the day and deserved to get on the score sheet for his efforts, but he was denied what would’ve been two stunning goals.

The first came from a powerful run followed by a booming shot, but Hart just got a fingertip to the ball to parry it onto the post. He then almost converted an outrageous backheel finish, but the ball was cleared off the line. Despite this, Keita was immense and looked like the player we’d all been hoping for since his debut against West Ham.

James Milner – 8

Milner was one of the best players in the team at the start of the campaign, but for whatever reason, he’d been going through a dip in form in the last run of games. He was one of deciding factors in the victory against Burnley though.

Aside from his clinical finish to get his team back into the game, Milner was running the show with Keita and almost set Sturridge up for a goal. He finished the game at left-back when Moreno went off and incredibly, was still just as involved from the back.

Embed from Getty Images

Xherdan Shaqiri – 7

Shaq would’ve gotten a 6 if he didn’t score, as he was unusually quiet for most of the game, especially in the first half. Part of it was likely down to not having the usual front three ahead of him, but regardless, he wasn’t involved enough.

Like most of the players, he got better as the game went on and he made a good run and classy finish to send the fans home singing. He’s a handy player to have when one or more of Mane, Salah, and Firmino aren’t playing.

Divock Origi – 7

Similar to Shaq, Origi gets a higher score because he registered the assist that got Liverpool back into the contest. Klopp was right to give him a chance, and this is hopefully another step in the right direction.

He worked hard, but he still appears to be suffering from his lengthy spell on the sidelines, meaning he’s not quite on the same wavelength as the rest of the team.

Daniel Sturridge – 6.5

Studge was too wasteful at times against Burnley, which isn’t something that you’d typically associate with such a prolific striker.

He was involved in the buildup to Shaq’s goal, but he got caught in possession far too often and on other occasions couldn’t control the ball when chances presented themselves. He was far better in the second half though and got a good shot off just after the break.

Embed from Getty Images


Trent Alexander-Arnold – (on for Gomez 23′) 6

Trent came on to replace the injured Gomez and had a mixed performance.

He was largely at fault for Burnley’s goal as he was beaten far too easily at the back post, but he produced a beautiful curling cross to VVD for our second goal from an awkward location. It’s rare that you see a goal scored in that manner when the position of the free-kick provides no angle.

Mo Salah – (on for Moreno 65′) 7

Salah was extremely lively when he came on and caused Burnley all sorts of problems. An assist was a fair reward for his solid cameo.

Firmino – (on for Origi 65′) 7

Bobby tapped in the second goal from his first touch and worked hard for the rest of his time on the pitch.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Rafa Camacho, Fabinho, and Adam Lallana.


Jurgen Klopp – 8

Klopp took a gamble on his heavily rotated side. If it didn’t work, then we all would’ve rightfully slated him for it, so now that it has worked, he deserves a proportionate amount of credit for the decision. He couldn’t have done anything about Gomez getting injured, but apart from that, it’s certain that many of our best players will have benefited from not having to play 90 minutes.

Likewise, this had the added effect of allowing certain rotational players a chance to prove themselves, and in the case of Keita in particular, that also paid off. The result and performance means that Klopp can now rotate when needed, and the players themselves will have the confidence to take their chances with both hands.

The manager should also be applauded for bringing Firmino and Salah on with plenty of time for them to change the game instead of leaving it too late which he’s been guilty of doing at times in the past.

Embed from Getty Images

Talking Points

Concern for Gomez

Gomez copped a hefty challenge from Ben Mee which sent him tumbling over the pitch and he got his leg caught in a nasty position. It was the only significant negative to take away from the game, but one that could have severe consequences for Liverpool’s season.

Klopp was notably upset when discussing the incident saying, “Joe is injured and probably not only a little bit. We have to see tomorrow. It’s [his] ankle, yes. After the first challenge, a sliding tackle from seven or eight yards, I said to the ref: ‘Please tell them you can’t do that’. Someone has to say ‘stop doing that’.” Scans will reveal the extent of the injury.

We’re all hoping that it’s nothing serious, but the signs don’t look good. If he’s going to be out for an extended period of time, then Liverpool face a genuine dilemma. Do we put our faith in Lovren and Matip to step up to the high standards that Gomez has set? Or do we try and bring in a quality replacement in January?

Keita’s Arrival

This was the Keita that we’d thought Liverpool had purchased; the player that we’ve only seen the briefest of glimpses of since his tremendous debut at home against West Ham.

He was Liverpool’s main man against Burnley because he was in control of the majority of the game and was constantly getting the ball moving quickly from the middle to the final third. He did so with both his dribbling and his passing, and his confidence grew with every success.

His ability to launch attacks quickly and link up with those around him with slick passes is something that Liverpool have missed since Ox’s injury, so hopefully Keita can fill that void. If he does, then it could be the spark that allows Liverpool to return to the kind of play that took Europe by storm last season.

Gaining Momentum

This is where a season can unravel quickly if your team isn’t mentally tough, physically fit, and of course, blessed with a bit of luck.

However, Liverpool look a different beast now and are fully capable of winning games when the going gets tough and when our stars aren’t performing or even on the pitch. Wins breed confidence, and Liverpool should have plenty to help carry them through the rest of the month. Likewise, Klopp’s decision to rotate heavily may give certain players an extra 10% in the tank to keep performing to a high level before their next break.

Next up, Liverpool are away again at Bournemouth, before returning to Anfield for that crucial clash with Napoli and the match against Manchester United. Those three games are played over only 9 days, but their importance and difficulty are such that further rotation would appear unlikely. That 9 day period will be the most important in the season for the club so far.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 06/12/2018

Liverpool 1 – 0 Everton: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Merry Christmas Everton

Divock Origi’s comical late goal sent Anfield into raptures and meant that for the third time in the space of 12 months, Liverpool have beaten Everton with a late winner.

The game itself was intense, and to Everton’s credit, they put up a far greater fight than in previous years, turning the match into an end-to-end thriller. Ultimately though, the result was a fair one, even if the goal was extremely fortunate. The Reds had numerous chances to put the game to bed, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Everton had opportunities of their own, but all were snuffed out by Alisson.

The win will give the players and supporters a much-needed lift after a difficult week and will serve us well going into the busy Christmas period. Hopefully those positive feelings will translate into goals and points on the board.

Embed from Getty Images

Player Ratings

Alisson – (Man of the Match) 9

For the second game in a week, Alisson given his team the chance to come back and win when things could’ve turned ugly, but also been the man of the match. This is what a top ‘keeper looks like. This is what £60million looks like.

Alisson’s two biggest moments came from chances that he had no right to save. Theo Walcott, who’s lightning on his feet, attempted to round the Brazilian and shoot into an empty net, but Alisson managed to force Walcott into a bobble, and the opportunity was gone. He also made an incredible save to deny Andre Gomes when the latter thumped a header towards goal from close range.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6.5

It was the correct decision by Klopp to restore Trent to the starting lineup, not only for tactical reasons, but also because the influence of a local lad on the Merseyside Derby cannot be underestimated.

His use of the ball was usually effective, except for in dead-ball situations, he was extremely poor by his standards in that department. Reminiscent of Robbo and Mane’s understanding down the left flank, TAA and Shaqiri seemed to click well together in this game. A promising sign.

Joe Gomez – 7.5

Even though he wasn’t at his absolute best, Gomez still showed why he should always be first-choice as VVD’s partner from now on, not sharing the position with Lovren.

After Alisson’s wonder-save to deny Gomes, Joe got a foot in the way of the follow-up shot that would’ve certainly seen the Reds fall behind. It was a heroic moment and one that may have huge implications in this year’s title race.

Virgil van Dijk – 6

After his nightmare in Paris, VVD was better against Everton, but still not nearly as good as we expect of him. He was careless on the ball on occasions and was dragged out of position a couple of times, looking uncomfortable with Everton’s overlapping runs. He also appeared indecisive in some moments where he’d otherwise be swift in his judgement.

Overall though, he was decent, and for the most part, was able to deal with the significant threat that Everton posed, particularly through Richarlison. We’ll need him back at his best soon. Cracking assist for Origi’s goal though…

Andy Robertson – 7.5

It was business as usual for Robbo. Energetic, combative, effective. You always know what you’re getting from the Scot, and in the Derby, that was no different.

His overlapping runs down the left added another dimension to Liverpool’s attack, and he fully delivered on his defensive duties. You couldn’t ask for much more except for maybe some added potency to his final ball.

Embed from Getty Images

Fabinho – 7

Hendo’s suspension opened the door for Fabinho to step up and stake his claim for more regular football. While he wasn’t excellent, he did enough to suggest that he should be afforded more opportunities, particularly in the upcoming schedul, even if he declined as the game went on.

He added a much-needed solidity and nastiness to the Liverpool midfield, which can be invaluable in games as intense as this one. He used his strength to great effect, regularly broke up play, and made some great tackles, but he’s still miles away from the player we hoped we were signing. There’s evidence of improvement though, so things bode well.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6

Many were calling for Klopp to give Naby Keita the chance to replace Gini, as the manager did for Fabinho as Hendo’s replacement. However, Klopp chose to stick with the Dutchman, and I think it’s the right decision, for now.

While Gini still wasn’t as good as he’d been earlier in the season, he had a solid game and played an important role throughout. His combination with Fabinho seemed to work well, and his work-rate was as high as ever. As is often the case with Gini, we just needed to see more.

Bobby Firmino – 3

Bobby’s not just out of form, he’s gradually getting worse. This is a real worry. It’s difficult to say what the cause is, as there are a number of explanations that all make sense singularly and collectively, such as his changed role, but that doesn’t explain his performance against PSG for example.

The cause can be debated, but the symptoms can’t. Poor passing and wayward shooting, and they were certainly on show against Everton. He’s still capable of a nice pass and a stinging shot, but they come far too infrequently, as most of the time he’s simply been gifting possession to the opposition.

Embed from Getty Images

Xherdan Shaqiri – 6

Everybody said in the wake of the PSG game that Shaqiri should’ve started and must play against Everton. Well, Klopp listened to the latter part at least.

However, Shaq wasn’t able to make his Merseyside Derby debut one to remember, as he drifted in and out of the game. He also spurned a clear, and arguably easy, chance to score in the first half, which would’ve changed the direction of the game drastically. His passing most mostly good though, including one cross that nearly led to a goal.

Sadio Mane – 7

Mane’s still the only Reds attacker that even vaguely resembles himself from last season. Like everyone else, his finishing isn’t good enough at the moment, but he’s still creating chances for himself and others to at least a similar level to the last campaign.

He did so on three clear occasions in the match, once with a nice ball that just didn’t reach Salah, and twice for himself. Unfortunately, he didn’t hit the target either time and can look back with some bitterness that it wasn’t his name being chanted by the Liverpool supporters for another Merseyside Derby winning goal or assist.

Mo Salah – 6

Nowhere near as bad as Bobby, but Mo suffered from similar problems with his passing, and in particular, his shooting. Although, even with the disappearance of his bountiful finishing from last season, he still causes problems for the opposition with his pace and movement.

He missed a big chance in the second half and was eventually subbed off for Sturridge in a move that would’ve never happened last season if we still needed a goal.

Embed from Getty Images


Naby Keita – (on for Shaqiri 71′) 5

Had enough time to make an impact, but simply didn’t.

Daniel Sturridge – (on for Salah 74′) 6

Didn’t do much more, but had some sharp touches.

Divock Origi – (on for Firmino 84′) 10

It’s a lovely story that the kid whose development was stunted after a horror tackle against Everton was the one to redeem himself and send them home miserable. He somehow missed from only a yard or two out minutes before, but who’ll remember that? He chased down a nothing ball and was rewarded with the winner. I’m very happy for him, and hopefully this’ll lead to a rejuvenation of the player we saw a couple of seasons ago, although I’m cautiously pessimistic on that notion.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno, and James Milner.


Jurgen Klopp – 7

Klopp got his team selection right regardless of some less than inspiring individual performances. It’s not Klopp’s fault that most of the team didn’t bring their shooting boots, because on another night, we could’ve won by 3 or 4. Having said that, we probably didn’t deserve anything greater than a narrow win.

Klopp still has to figure out how to get these players performing to the levels of last season. In the Summer, we were hoping for improvement, but now we’re praying just for signs of life from our midfield and attack. The defence is outstanding, and you can’t help but feel that if our attack was back to their best, we could be the best team in the league, if not, the world.

It was somewhat surprising to see Milner left on the bench and Firmino being the last to be subbed off despite his terrible display, but who am I to question the German when he clearly knew what was going to happen with Origi all along. Neutrals and rivals might see his celebration as being over-the-top and disrespectful, but who can honestly say they wouldn’t want a manager with that amount of passion for his club?

Embed from Getty Images

Talking Points

Alisson’s a Keeper

Alisson’s been generally solid since his arrival in backing up a strong defensive line, but took another step in the fans’ minds this week. The only moments where his skills have come into question so far have been when he’s made some questionable decisions with the ball at his feet.

No one has argued that he’s not good at keeping the ball out of the back of the net though, and he’s even had to save his own skin after some wayward passes. However, these last two games in particular have shown exactly why we spent so much money on him, and how important having a truly world-class goalie is.

He doesn’t only keep us in games such as this one where he’s frequently called into action, often pulling off downright unbelievable saves, but more importantly when he’s had nothing to do. So many times in previous years have Liverpool been undone by a late goal when the opposition slots home out of nowhere. Alisson stays focused however, and his value the team can be measured equally in those sorts of matches to the Everton game.

Kinks in the System

The 4-2-3-1 system works, despite what many are suggesting. The results make that point very clear. What isn’t working is certain individuals within the system.

That’s not to say that it couldn’t be tweaked to better suit the players that are struggling, but to suggest that the poor form of the likes of Firmino is entirely down to the new system and his changed role within it, is simply wrong. Bobby’s played as a deep 10 plenty of times before, both at Liverpool and earlier in his career. He also dropped deep plenty of times last season when he was playing as a 9.

A ‘new’ role doesn’t suddenly effect your passing and shooting. So what can be done? In my opinion, we’re missing playmaker, and Salah should be removed from the striking position. If Nabil Fekir signed in the Summer, I believe that he’d be playing at 10, Salah would still be on the right, and Bobby would be up top. There’s nothing we can do about that now, although the closest we can get to that would be to show more faith in Shaq and play him at 10, or take a big gamble on hoping Keita springs into life if he plays there for a few games in a row.

No Sleep Till Burnley

So it begins. The exciting, but taxing Christmas period. Having played midweek against PSG and Everton yesterday, Liverpool now have only 3 days until the Burnley game.

This is a theme that’ll more or less continue up until the Manchester City clash in January. We as fans love having games every three days, but it’s undoubtedly detrimental to the players, and only City really have the squad depth to rotate their entire XI from game to game without sacrificing too much potency.

There’s not much that can be done about it unfortunately. Next season we’re supposed to be getting a Winter break of sorts, but until then, we’ll have to power through. One thing that Everton’s admirable performance has shown is that there’ll be no easy games during this time, so Klopp will have to rotate with great caution.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 03/12/2018


PSG 2 – 1 Liverpool: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Another Loss Away in Europe

Liverpool were beaten 2-1 by PSG in Paris to put the Reds’ Champions League progression under serious threat. Liverpool started slowly and PSG took advantage by emulating the Reds of last year in blowing us off the park early. Similarly, the home fans channelled an Anfield-like spirit and roared their team to victory.

Their first goal was slightly fortunate but certainly deserved, as Juan Bernat arrived first to a failed reactionary clearance by van Dijk, and managed to deflect a shot beyond a helpless Alisson. Neymar doubled their lead after our ‘keeper brilliantly denied Edison Cavani, but the Brazilian villain was never going to miss from only a few yards out.

Liverpool slowly kicked on after this but failed to create any clear-cut chances. James Milner slotted home a penalty just before half-time, but it wasn’t enough. Even though the Reds had far more possession in the second half, they were unable to do anything meaningful with it.

Embed from Getty Images

Player Ratings

Alisson – (Man of the Match) 9

The fact that the ‘keeper was Man of the Match in a loss tells the story. Regardless, Alisson was unbelievable and couldn’t do anything about either of PSG’s goals. He was the only reason that the score was kept respectable, as the Reds could’ve easily conceded another three or four if it weren’t for his interventions.

Some superb efforts to deny the likes of Angel Di Maria, Cavani, and Thiago Silva stand out as the best of the bunch. It’s obviously better if our ‘keeper doesn’t have to do so much work, but it’s still good to be sure that even when we’re being overrun, Alisson can keep our heads above water.

Joe Gomez – 4.5

Playing Gomez at right-back was an okay idea in theory. But the game isn’t played in theory, and the experiment didn’t work at all. The logic was to use Gomez as extra protection against Neymar, but that backfired badly as PSG ran through the right side of our defence all night.

A swift return to centre-back is needed for young Joe, and in hindsight, it was foolish to move him out of the role that he’d been playing so well in.

Dejan Lovren – 4

This was Lovren’s first Champions League appearance of the season, and it may well be his last. The Croatian played no worse than any of the other defenders, but it’s clear that VVD’s partner should be Gomez.

He couldn’t handle the speed and quick thinking of PSG’s attacking trio and was regularly caught out of position, including in the buildup to the second goal when he was woefully left in the dust.

Virgil van Dijk – 4

We’ve come to expect so much more from the Dutchman, and while the result doesn’t rest on his shoulders, we needed him to step up again and lead the defence to an assured performance, but he didn’t.

Like Lovren, he failed to keep up with PSG’s slick attack, and it was his failed, albeit difficult, clearance that led to the opening goal. Although, Gomez might’ve reacted quicker to either get ahead of Bernat, or close down the eventual shot.

Andy Robertson – 6.5

Robbo was the only defender who can take any pride out of that game, and even then, his reactions towards the end of the match showed that he’s just as furious about the result as many of the fans.

Kylian Mbappe was kept quiet for most of the game, and that was largely due to Robbo’s interceptions and covering runs. He was also able to threaten PSG’s flank with some nice overlapping runs, but unfortunately, his end product wasn’t up to scratch.

Embed from Getty Images

Jordan Henderson – 3

Hendo needed to redeem himself in the eyes of many fans after needlessly getting himself sent off against Watford, but he’s only fanned the flames with this performance.

Unsurprisingly, his biggest sin was repeatedly passing backwards when the opportunity to break was on. We desperately needed some sort of drive or spark from midfield, or at the very least, for the midfielders not to slow the game down. Hendo was more of a hindrance than a help in that regard.

Gini Wijnaldum – 3

In fairness to Hendo, the rest of the midfield wasn’t much better. It’s so frustrating to see Gini absolutely dominate some games, and then go missing for 30-minute spells in others. The first time I saw him anywhere near the play, he was getting booked.

We needed our midfield to give the rest of the team a hand, but they neither provided the attackers with any meaningful ammunition nor gave the defence the support they so desperately needed.

James Milner – 5

Milner gets a better rating simply because he scored. To be fair, he was also the best of the worst when it came to getting attacking moves started, but that’s really not saying much at all.

He was just as guilty as anyone of allowing PSG’s players acres of space in the midfield and did little to turn the tables even once momentum had begun to shift. His penalty was our only shot on target. A damning statistic.

Embed from Getty Images

Mo Salah – 4

Sometimes it feels like ‘one step forward, two steps back’ with Salah. This game showed all of the things that have worried Liverpool fans about Mo’s performances this season.

His decision making in the final third was frankly, abysmal. He’d shoot when the pass was on, and pass when the shot was on. To make matters worse, regardless of his decision, he’d execute the final ball terribly. It’s also a mystery as to why he’s on corner duty when he’s decent in the air, but more importantly, horribly inconsistent with his crosses.

Sadio Mane – 7

Mane didn’t manage to score or rescue the result, but he looked by far the most likely and won the penalty that could’ve changed the game for us.

He created chances all on his own when his fellow attackers weren’t showing any intelligent movement, and created space for himself with his pace and trickery when the midfield failed to give him a decent pass. Like Alisson and Robbo, he was let down by those around him.

Bobby Firmino – 3

Firmino did next to nothing all game, apart from one decent header that went high and wide. Being restored to a more familiar role could’ve meant a return to his form of last season, but we just got more of the same, minus the effective pressing and passing.

Bobby would’ve gotten a 4 as Mo did, but I’ve taken an extra point off for that disgusting thing on his upper lip. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the worst thing I saw during the game, but God did it come close.

Embed from Getty Images


Naby Keita – (on for Wijnaldum 66′) 5

Naby tried hard and did give our midfield some much needed forward drive, but ultimately he couldn’t provide anything significant on the night.

Daniel Sturridge – (on for Firmino 71′) 4

His only contribution of note was to hold back a breaking PSG player late on. He got booked, but he needed to take one for the team to keep the deficit to only one goal.

Xherdan Shaqiri – (on for Milner 77′) 4

His only opportunities to make an impact came from set-pieces, and he didn’t take any of them particularly well. Although, his cross to Lovren was well-weighted.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Joel Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Fabinho.


Jurgen Klopp – 3

Klopp made some big decisions for this game, and they all backfired. He needs to take responsibility for that. Yes, most of the players were individually poor, and that’s not something Klopp can control, but the warning signs have been there, and have seemingly been ignored.

The decision to revert to a 4-3-3 was predictable given that Klopp had previously hinted that the new 4-2-3-1 system would be played depending on the opposition for now, but it’s questionable as to why he’d so carelessly change what had been a winning formula. We hadn’t been back to our absolute best with the new system, but there were positive signs including a more productive midfield and more varied attack.

To his credit, he made three good, positive substitutions. However, some will argue that they all could’ve come on even sooner, in particular, Shaqiri, who was bizarrely the last to be brought on.

Embed from Getty Images

Talking Points

What the Result Means

The reaction to the result and performance mightn’t have been so severe if it weren’t for the context that surrounded it. Here’s what Liverpool need to do to qualify for the knockout rounds of the Champions League:

Beat Napoli 1-0
Winning the game 1-0 would put Liverpool level on points and head-to-head results with Napoli, but clear of them on goals scored, which is the next criteria.

OR Beat Napoli by a Two-Goal Margin
If Napoli score, then the Reds will have to win by two or more to advance. This would leave us level on points, but leading on head-to-head results.

OR Beat Napoli and Have PSG Drop Points to Red Star
Any win would be good enough if PSG were to do the unthinkable and lose or draw to Red Star. Here’s hoping the Serbians are as up for that one as they were against us. Funnily enough, If PSG drop points and Liverpool win, then the Reds would finish top of the group on head-to-head results.

Ultimately though, we can only count on ourselves and will have to put in a heroic effort to progress. A draw won’t cut it, we’d be relegated to the Europa League in that case, and a loss could mean missing out on Europe altogether if Red Star win against PSG.

Embarrassing UEFA

It’s important to note that Liverpool are responsible for their own rubbish performance and painful result, however, there were a few things that didn’t help matters.

I generally don’t go after referees as it’s a difficult job, and for the most part, referees do a good job. One mistake in a game, even a big mistake, can be forgiven by more sympathetic fans, but this bloke was dreadful. Every second foul was given the wrong way, he showed yellow cards far too easily except in the case of Marco Verratti who should’ve been sent off a handful of times, and he had to be told by his assistant that a clear foul had been committed in the box. How UEFA could allow someone so incompetent to officiate over such an important game is beyond me.

PSG can be proud of the way they played but should be ashamed of their pathetic theatrics. Neymar was, of course, the worst offender, but Di Maria, Silva, Marquinhos, and many more were doing it too. You have to wonder what goes through their minds when they watch games back and see themselves rolling around like morons. I understand gamesmanship, and in this case it worked as the Reds lost their heads, but that doesn’t make it any less despicable. It’s one of the last blights on the beautiful game.

Problems to Address

Klopp’s got his work cut out for him now. Of course, few teams will be able to run through us as PSG did, but that doesn’t make the signs any less ominous. The result means Liverpool have lost all three of our European away games this season, a far cry from last year’s dizzying highs travelling abroad.

You’d like to think that this will be a kick up the backside in the vein of Tottenham away last season, but that’s perhaps too optimistic in the context of how we’ve been performing in general. Our attack is still a major concern, but not nearly as much as the midfield. The middle of the park holds the key for both ends of the pitch.

This is what Klopp needs to sort out as the highest priority because if our midfield is playing well, then our defence has to do less and our attackers will have more chances than they know what to do with. 4-2-3-1 has to be utilised from now on with Shaqiri as a starter. As for who will play as the double pivots? The jury’s still out on that one. What do you think?

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 29/11/2018

Watford 0 – 3 Liverpool: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Records Fall as Liverpool Rise

Liverpool’s current tally of 33 points is their highest ever total at this stage of a Premier League season, and likewise, only five goals conceded is the Reds’ best defensive record in the EPL. However, Watford didn’t make life easy on the day, particularly in the first half.

Gerard Deulofeu had a goal ruled out for offside after only a few minutes. Troy Deeney set up the chance with a wonderful flick-on, but aside from that, the first 30 minutes or so were rather dull. The game suddenly came to life though when Firmino had a shot saved before Watford went the length of the pitch and almost scored themselves.

Salah broke the deadlock with a deflected shot from an excellent team move after an anxious 67-minute wait. Alexander-Arnold then sealed the win with a beautiful free-kick that left Ben Foster in the dust, and Firmino’s headed goal just further emphasised what was already a decided result. Henderson was rightly sent off with a second yellow card, providing the only tangible negative from the game.

Embed from Getty Images

Player Ratings

Alisson – 6

Watford only had one shot on target, and in fairness, Alisson produced a stunning save to deny them of that big chance, but for the rest of the match, our ‘keeper made things harder than they needed to be.

He played a couple of dangerous passes, and one to Firmino almost led to an embarrassing goal. Ultimately, nothing came from these mad moments, and no one wants to see the Brazilian make too many changes to his game, but surely he has to start being a little more composed in these situations if he wants to continue playing out from the back so frequently. His accuracy with long balls is superb, and we have the pace to chase balls down, so why not utilise them more?

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7

Trent scored his first goal for England during the break and then doubled up with a curling free-kick to secure an important result for his club.

TAA was guilty of being a bit too casual in the first half, as some of his touches and passes were wasteful at times when the team needed him to be precise. However, he improved as the game went on and assisted the defence in obtaining another clean sheet.

Dejan Lovren – 8

Lovren came in for Gomez as the latter suffered a minor knock in training. Lovren didn’t look out of place though, and in fact, excelled in the game, particularly after the first twenty minutes or so.

The Croatian snuffed out Deulofeu after the Watford flyer had shown signs that he was ready for a big game. Overall, he defended extremely well throughout, including numerous important headers and interceptions when the Hornets began to threaten. Lovren’s an easy, and sometimes warranted, target for criticism, but it’s important to give credit when it’s due.

Virgil van Dijk – (Man of the Match) 8.5

VVD was incredible again. He just slightly edged ahead of his centre-back partner in terms of involvement, and his organisation was also of a typically high standard throughout.

Lovren handled Deulofeu, and Virgil took control of the Deeney situation after the awkward striker threatened to snatch a result with some impressive touches and passes.

Andy Robertson – 7

Robbo wasn’t at his best, particularly with the ball, but he never looked troubled defensively apart from an incident with Will Hughes that initially looked like a certain penalty, but replays showed that the Scot intelligently pulled out of the tackle in time.

Like most of the team, Robbo improved in the second half, and once the first goal went in, he was able to find a lot more space to run into and his pinpoint cross led to the third goal after Mane saw his initial shot saved.

Embed from Getty Images

Jordan Henderson – 5

I’ll give my thoughts on Hendo getting sent off in the ‘Talking Points’ section, but for now, I’ll only be reviewing his performance for the 82 minutes he was on the pitch.

Until he got sent off, he had a strong game, and if he kept his cool, he might’ve gotten a 7. In the first half, he was guilty of not being as proactive with the ball as he could’ve been, but he played a big role in Liverpool gaining a foothold in the game and securing enough possession so that chances could begin to come in droves.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6.5

Gini faced the same problems as Hendo in the first half and couldn’t impose himself on the game, however, it should be noted that Watford’s midfielders desperately outnumbered the midfield duo.

Unlike Hendo though, Gini didn’t bounce back as definitively and only started to become more adventurous once the result was already secured. Having said that, he didn’t put a foot wrong all game and one perfectly weighted pass to Robbo sparked the third goal; we just needed to see more of that assertiveness.

Bobby Firmino – 7

Bobby was virtually absent before the break, in part due to the fact that he’s clearly still adjusting to his new role in the system, as his starting position is much further from goal.

He picked it up in the second half though, and his passing was on point including one sublime ball to Mane that took three players out before Salah’s opener. His late goal wasn’t quite as pretty to look at, but it’ll still do his confidence a world of good after going quite some time without scoring.

Embed from Getty Images

Xherdan Shaqiri – 7

Shaq had a strange game in the sense that he was the only Liverpool player who looked fired up and creative in the first half, but unlike everybody else, he declined in the second half.

Klopp was right to replace him as he looked to secure the result, but while he was on, he created a few chances including one for Mane that could’ve made the game far easier.

Sadio Mane – 7.5

Mane did everything but score, and a goal would’ve been fitting after he signed a new deal midweek. He hit an incredible, yet unorthodox, shot in the first half after a great ball by Shaq, but unfortunately, it went straight at Foster.

Mane was unlucky not to score a couple of other chances as well, hitting the post (albeit from an offside position), and seeing a scorching shot denied by Foster again until Firmino pounced on the rebound.

Mo Salah – 7.5

Watford were able to frustrate Salah in the first half as he found time and space very difficult to come by. His only chance came from a clever set-piece routine where Mo drifted from the edge of the box to the back post and would’ve scored were it not for another tremendous save by Foster.

His movement in the second half caused the Hornets more issues, and on another day he could’ve easily scored more than just the one that bundled home. It’s easy to forget that Salah’s scored nine goals already this season, which is still impressive especially considering his new role.

Embed from Getty Images


James Milner – (on for Shaqiri 74′) 6

Didn’t have much to do when he came on, but he certainly helped steady the ship.

Fabinho – (on for Salah 86′) N/A

No time to make an impact.

Joel Matip – (on for Firmino 92′) N/A

No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Naby Keita, and Daniel Sturridge.


Jurgen Klopp – 7.5

Klopp did the best he could in a situation that was far from ideal. He had very little time to prepare his team for a well-drilled, and well-rested, Watford side, and had the added hindrance of an expected, but thankfully minor, injury to Joe Gomez.

In my opinion, as much as I like the new 4-3-2-1 system, our old 4-3-3 might’ve worked better in this game as Watford tend to overload the middle of the park with strong, and tricky, midfield players. However, Klopp showed faith and patience in his players and tactics, and it clearly paid off in the end.

There have been times in the past where fans and pundits have grown frustrated with Klopp’s perceived unwillingness to change and learn from past mistakes, but it would appear that Klopp is making appropriate adjustments this season. It was another solid result, and the German has to take a high degree of credit for the record start to this campaign.

Embed from Getty Images

Talking Points

Hendo Sees Red

Hendo’s taken a lot of criticism online after needlessly getting sent off at a time where in previous seasons, when we weren’t so solid at the back, it could’ve cost us points. The referee had already spoken to him and warned him that he needed to watch his step, and while the final tackle wasn’t that bad, it came after a string of fouls and Hendo had given the linesman a spray only seconds earlier, which drew the ref’s attention.

There’s no defending any professional, let alone the captain, behaving so naively and allowing their emotions to get the better of them, especially in a game where the win was more or less already sealed. However, some of the abuse that’s come his way is entirely over the top and uncalled for.

Hendo is a divisive figure, and there’s many who believe that he either doesn’t fit well with Klopp’s style, of simply isn’t good enough for Liverpool. Others defend him and acknowledge his importance to the team. Either way, you don’t have to like a player, but we all, as Liverpool fans, should treat our players with some respect. Fair criticism and personal abuse are two very different things, no one’s expected to praise Hendo if you think he’s played badly, but that doesn’t mean that hateful words are welcome.

A New Klopp

One interesting aspect to note about this season is the emergence of a new kind of Jurgen Klopp. Gone are the days of gung-ho attacking set-ups. Instead, this Klopp has moulded his team and shaped his system around the result, rather than simply goals and finesse. It’s substance over style, and hopefully it’ll give the team a greater chance of winning trophies in the long run.

Klopp himself noted this after the game when he said, “I know you always expect perfection, but we had exactly one session to prepare [for Watford]. We needed to focus on the specific quality of the opponent. We had to stay stubborn. It wasn’t a brilliant first half, but it was still good.”

“It was a really mature performance. I know a few people miss one or two situations from last season, but in similar games last season we were not that convincing – it wasn’t clear that we controlled the game.”

Another Tough Run Ahead

Our next league game comes against Everton in what will probably be the most competitive Merseyside Derby in some time, but for now, the focus shifts back to the Champions League and a crucial fixture away to PSG.

The Parisians are looking unstoppable in their own league right now, winning 14 from 14 games, but we all know that the UCL is a different kettle of fish to Ligue 1. PSG also face the prospect of taking on the only team to defeat them this season without Neymar or Kylian Mbappe, as both are in doubt with minor injuries.

After PSG and Everton, there’s little time to breath with away games against Burnley and Bournemouth, before two crunch ties between the Reds and Napoli in the UCL and Manchester United in the league. Games against Arsenal and Manchester City follow soon after that, so the Reds will need to keep up their form to stay in touch with City.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 25/11/2018